Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Promise of Spring

I know that the vernal equinox is still nearly two months away, but the early signs of spring are showing in Bushy Park.

This weekend I rode around the area to see what signs I could see of the end of Winter being on its way. While there were none of the huge expanses of flowers that I remember from last Spring here, it is evident that it will be a good display again this year.

The only bulb flowers that are showing are the snow drops. There are a few patches where the flowers are intense, like this. Mostly, however, the bulbs have sent up their shoots, but they will not set flowers for at least another week.

The weather was excellent for a ride. A bit cold, but not too windy and at least it was dry! Walking through the woodland garden, I can see huge clumps of shoots where the daffodils will be blooming soon. There are not as many obvious crocus shoots, but then, they look so similar to the grass they would be planted in that it is unlikely I would spot them without pretty close examination.

So, I guess I will close this last entry for January with the wish that your day is blooming wherever you happen to be today!

Don Bergquist - 31-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, January 30, 2006

Home ~ home

The other night, as I was getting ready to leave the office I commented that I was heading home for the night. "Home?" one of my co-workers from the UK asked, "I thought you were here for a couple more weeks." The confusion that my coworker seems to be suffering under is that there is a definite difference between "home" and "Home."

There was a time that I used to hold the opinion that "Home is where the luggage is." Of course, back then, I was living three-hundred nights a year in a hotel somewhere and there was little for me to do when I got "Home" other than to get ready to go out on the road again. I can remember the exact moment that I came to think of Lakewood as "Home."

In 1999 I had more-or-less come off the road. I was the training coordinator at work and was at home far more than I was on the road. I was dating on-and-off, and had a large circle of friends around me. (I still have a large circle of friends - one that is transcontinental, in fact...) Life had settled into a comfortable routine when I was approached to go on a six-week install.

I returned to the Denver International airport and was met by the car service I used at the time. My bags in the trunk, I was sitting in the back of the car relaxing and thinking of the things I had to do when I got home. Roy, the driver, welcomed my home and asked if it had been a good trip. It was at that moment that "home" as applied to Colorado became "Home." I realized that I was glad to be back and was feeling that this was where I belonged.

With no offense, intended, in London (Thames Ditton) I do have a home, but not a "Home." Should the opportunity arise, I am certain that I would not mind the opportunity to live and work here in the long term (would but that I could only afford it - the cost of living here is impossible!) but I think it would be quite some time before London became "Home."

It's more than just the fact that I am still learning my way around, I can't tell what exactly it would take to capitalize "home" as applied to anywhere in the UK. Perhaps some day, I'll write another column telling what event triggered my thinking of London as "Home."

I hope that you are safe and happy at "Home" wherever that may be.

Don Bergquist - 30-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday in Surbiton

Having another great day in London, I decided to get on my bike and head around the area with my camera. My First stop was Surbiton.

Surbiton is about a mile away in the opposite direction to the one you would take if you wanted to go to the office. It is on the main railway line into London and is a fairly good sized town. It is also where I go to do my marketing. One of the cool architectural features is the clock tower in the town square. It is a lovely, Edwardian building that does not really fit-in with the more modern buildings around it.

Speaking of modern buildings, the train station in Surbiton is perhaps the ugliest I have seen in the United Kingdom. It is an attempt at post-modernism. It is just plain ugly. All straight lines, not a bit of embellishment.

It is in stark contrast to the clock tower. The clock tower is covered with carved stone gargoyles, filigree, faces, and all manner of interesting things to look at. There is even an entire angel orchestra surrounding the top of the tower, one angel playing the harp, another with a pair of cymbals, still others playing drums, pipes and horns. It is really a cool tower!

There are also stone faces surrounded by wreathes. I spent about an hour circling the tower and getting shots from every angle I thought interesting. I wish I could have gotten the modern buildings out of the background, though.

I am sure that I gave the locals a bit of a chuckle, as in the entire time I was there nobody so much as glanced at the tower (except to wonder, I suppose) what the crazy tourist was taking pictures of.

I hope that your day will bring you something of interest, wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 29-January-2006 - Surbiton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Quiet Day At Home

What a week!

I got the chance to start working on the project I have been training to start for the last couple weeks. It has been a couple weeks of getting ready for the project to start and then a really busy weekend in Oostende. So when I actually started, and started getting the scope of what I was here to do, it was daunting.

Last night I was up late with friends. We had dinner at Kevin and then a quick pint or two at the pub. I did not get in until early this morning. Today, I have no plans except for doing some laundry, working on my taxes, and getting my batteries recharged. Next week is going to be hectic.

Maybe this afternoon I'll ride my bike into the park. It is a really nice day outside.

I hope you have an extremely pleasant and relaxing day wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 28-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Friday, January 27, 2006

Being Bad ~ Being Good

When considering the food and beer and fun I have had since my last weigh-in last week, I cannot imagine what my weigh-in at Weight Watchers is likely to be. It will most assureadly not be in the negative areas.

When trying to think of a word to describe how I have been on my diet this week, the word "bad" springs to mind. But not just any version of the word "bad." Specifically I can hear my old friend Kelly in her imitation of a child waggling her finger at me and saying "you wer baa-aa-ad!"

But it was so good! The beer in Belgium is ubiquitous; and there is certainly no dearth of good (uh, I mean 'bad') things to ear. I can excuse that - I was on vacation...

But since I have gotten back, I have not really been much better. I have had dinner in the pub once this week, skipped dinner the next night because my coworkers and I went out for beers. went over to Molesey for dinner with my friends there. They wanted to introduce me to a dish that Terry makes with Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Stilton. If I pretend that cheese is a vegetable, I may have less trouble thinking of that wonderful meal the other night as anything but 'bad' but how can it be bad when the meal was so good - and when the company was better than the food!

Then last night, my coworkers and I drove into Esher to have dinner at this wonderful Mexican restraunt (Mexican - over here? They can get excellent Mexican back in Colorado!) that they had been told about. Apparently, it was so good that they could no longer bear to sell it off. The restaurant has been closed for the past few months.

I'm so confused! Another friend over here, Dave, and I were chatting last week and I had told him that I have a bad habit of gaining weight over here every time I visit and I was determined not to do so this trip. I was going to be good! For reasons unknow, Dave decided this was to be taken as a chalenge. He bought me another pint.

With friends like mine...

I hope that today you can not worry about being bad or being good and just enjoy your day wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 27-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Belgium: A Wrap-Up

Angie & Terry
Getting There (!)
Hotel Bero
"In the lift(!) In the lift(!) In the lift(!)"
Just one more
Kwak Bier
Lovely Buildings (!)
My(!) My(!) My(!)
No beer for me thanks, It's before noon(!!)
Okay, it's afternoon (somewhere)
"Quack it's pronounced 'Quack'"
"Real Cheese(!!!)"
Sea Side
Tim's Bar
Underwater in the Hotel Pool
Very Late? No, Very Early(!)
Walking in Brugge
X(!) Nothing about Belgium Starts with "X"(!)
Yes, We played charades on the train on the way home
Zounds, that's all twenty six(!!!)

When trying to get my thoughts in order to write a quick follow-up for my trip to Belgium, I thought of how to best do it. Alphabetical is as good as any, I thought so there it is.

Of the things that impressed me the most about Belgium, I would have to say it was the beer. It is everywhere. And, no! It's not just me and my friends, though, those who know me know that I do like the occasional beer! It is everywhere. The bars (and restaurants that serve alcohol) all open in the mornings and are serving beer at breakfast. I remember seeing the restaurants open on every one of my morning walks.

They do not even blink when someone orders beer at breakfast. I think that perhaps I caused more of a stir on Sunday morning when I ordered Coffee for my first round rather than beer.

The food was also excellent on my visit (I dread the thought of seeing what I weigh on Friday!) as was the company. I am glad my friends invited me. the people I met were so warm and friendly.

I hope you are having a warm and friendly day where you are!

Don Bergquist - 26-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lessons Learned

Today would have been my mother's seventy-first birthday. As a tribute, I'd like to share some of the lessons I have learned from my mother.

1) Given enough anger and frustration, anyone can spontaneously generate hardware fasteners to issue forth from their orifices. "You children make me so mad that I could spit tacks!"

2) The most infamously cruel and horrid prison in history was apparently so bad because my dirty clothing and toys were laying strewn on the carpet that floored it. "Donald! Clean-up this room, it looks like the Black Hole of Calcutta in here!"

3) It would be better to suffer alone than to seek assistance for an injury. "Donald! If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don't come running to me!"

4) It is possible to the auditory orifices to be put into agrarian production. "Donald! You did not wash behind your ears! I could grow potatoes back here!"

5) Almost anything that can be eaten (if not enjoyed) is sorely lacking in Asia. "Donald! Don't you let that entrail and carrot scraping soup got to waste. There are starving children in Asia!"

6) Offering to be magnanimous and humanitarian is not always appreciated. "No, Donald, you may not have an envelope to mail it to them!"

7) Despite a complete lack of rational reason why it should be so, curses work. "One of these days, you children will have kids just like you!"

8) One's visual receptors can be worn out by using them for their intended purpose. "Stop watching so much TV, you'll ruin your eyes!"

9) A good descriptive name can cover a really bad recipe. "It's called 'Glorified Rice. Just eat it!'"

10) That to this day, I am a far better person for having known her. "One of these days, you'll thank me for this."

I do, Mom. I do! Every day.

I hope that you are making memories today that you will keep with you always, wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 25-January-2005 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Editor's Notes:

1) Sometimes the proffered item was a candy bar... Some times she would have to 'stand on my head' to spit out tacks.

2) If that is what made the Black Hole so bad... It's a good thing they were never sent to The Black Hole of the credenza in Mom & Dad's Room.

3) Okay, this is just a stock parental axiom, but I think that it must be from Doctor Spock. Everyone my age remembers their parents using this chestnut occasionally.

4) The only cure for potatoes behind the ears was spit on a Kleenex.

5) Okay, there was no entrail and carrot scraping soup, we had something even worse: (and I shutter as I recall this) Beef and Barley soup.

6) I know we must have offered at least once...

7) There is a reason that I was in no particular hurry to be the first to become a parent. It has now become apparent that the curse is working.

8) Though, I still contend you can ruin your ears by listening to Rap.

9) Glorified Rice: Minute Rice (prepared without salt), Canned Fruit Cocktail, Walnuts, Flaked Coconut, Miniature marshmallows, and Cool Whip.

10) I cannot count the ways.


Editor's Correction:

The editor of this blog wishes to enter one correction to the posting above. In speaking with the subject of the blog entry via seance, it has come to our attention that today would have been Jeanne Bergquist's twenty-third birthday. The editor wishes to beg forgiveness of Mrs. Bergquist and offers sincere apologies for the factual error in the above entry.

Don Bergquist
Editor in Chief

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back to Reality

It is another lovely day in Thames Ditton!

I got to the office early this morning to upload all my entries that I have been writing on my PDA for the last few days. I hope that you will enjoy them. I am sure that there are lots more stories that I could write about my trip to Belgium, but I think some of them I would prefer to share some evening with you over a beer. So some night, get me to the King's Arms, buy me a Tanglefoot and ask me to tell some stories.

Those of you who know me know that it does not take too much encouragement to get me to tell a story or two.

Well, I'd best get to work.

I hope that your weekend has been memorable as well!

Don Bergquist - 24-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, January 23, 2006

Return to London

I am sitting in The King's Arms writing my blog entry for the day. What a day it has been! After a bit of a lie-in, I woke-up at 09:00 but then I was out 'til well after three this morning.

We did a bit of shopping in Oostende (I stopped at the chocolatiers for presents for my housemates and friends back in the UK) and then checked-out and packed up for home. With a brief stop at the border for provisions, we made the crossing back to the UK via the tunnel.

The only thing of note in that was that I was stopped at passport control and questioned again (as I was a few weeks when first entering the county) about why I was in the UK. I now have a new visa stamp in my passport. We had sandwiches on the train over and made good time back to Surrey. I unpacked quickly and made my way to the King's Arms for dinner. I hope it will not be too late! I am completely knackered!

It was a good trip, though and I am glad to have had the opportunity to do go! Oh, and one thing that I have missed - the running tourists!

Angie and Terry show how to comply with the Tourisme signs in Europe.

I hope that your day has given you something to remember as well!

Don Bergquist - 23-January-2006 - Hampton Court, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dinner with Friends

After our return from Brugge last night, we headed off to Den Arteste for a wonderful steak and then had a few beers at the bar. Today has been fairly sedate. After a continental breakfast an a beer with Tim and Janet and a gathering of the other regulars from the bar, we went and did a bit of shopping and then headed back to the hotel for a swim and a nap.

This evening we had a big bowl of pasta at de Waterhoose and had a Panakoeken (Mine was with Ice Cream and Chocolate sauce!) before heading over to the bar. The restaurant was still done-up with its Christmas Decorations and it was lovely. The place looked like Narnia with polar bears, white and fleecy decorations, everything!
The last night party was good, there was time to win a beer from Tim at cribbage, and then to have a grudge match with Terry. The point is not who won or lost in the two matches that Terry and I played, the point was that I got to play cribbage!

It was a late night and the whole crowd was feeling no pain by the close. After the bar closed, I went to go for a walk and get some fresh air (again, what is with all the smokers in Europe? Has nobody over hear every heard of emphysema?) and on the way back to the hotel, I passed a dance bar that had some wonderful music coming out the door. I went in to dance... but that is another story. Suffice it to say that it was after 03:00 when I returned to my hotel.

I hope that your day was as pleasant!

Don Bergquist - 22-January-2006 - Oostende, Belgium

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brugge by Rail

This morning, after a leisurely lie-in (okay, I was up pretty early) we had a walk into the Leffe Cafe to have breakfast. Croques Bam Bam (if I have misspelled that, I am sure that I will be told) for breakfast.

But I am getting ahead of myself. For reasons I cannot account for, I was up at 05:00 local time. I tried getting back to sleep and failed miserably so I grabbed my coat, dropped my key at the front desk and set-out for the sea front. It was lovely and still this morning as I walked by the sea; a but cold, but otherwise, not bad. I stopped at a little all-night store to pick-up some post cards for friends back home and then took a winding way back through the city to the hotel.

Along the way I passed a number of bars that were still open (I was to learn later that some of them had actually just opened for the morning.) and had patrons being served mugs of Leffe, De Konning, and Trappist. Beer at 07:00! Welcome to Belgium.

I arrived back at the hotel as the Continental breakfast was being served so I got a pot of coffee and a croissant and sat writing post cards. I then returned to bed and napped until we had arranged to meet for breakfast. The Leffe is named after the beer of the same name and serves quite a lot of it, yes, even at 10:00.

We stopped at a chemists shoppe on the way over to the restaurant so I could get some naproxium sodium because I missed a step last night because I was looking up when I stepped off it. I didn't fall, but the sudden jolt didn't do my knee any favors.

So, the breakfast was ordered and I got to try a regional favorite that Angie had been telling me about. It is a croques monsieur sandwich which has been covered in bolognese sauce. I have to admit, it was quite good.

Breakfast finished, we did a bit of shopping in Oostende. First off was the Cheese Shoppe. I understand, now, why my friend Brian makes fun of the cheese shoppes we have in the states. They are nothing to the cheese shoppes over here. What a selection!

I did get one really good picture this morning. I really lucked into the picture of the seagull flying past the tower in the Oostende town square. I had to shoot a few until the bird I was watching flew into my camera's sights. After our shopping we headed into

What a lovely town! It was a quick trip into Brugge and then a quick walk into the town proper from the train station.

There are beautiful old buildings everywhere and there is certainly no dearth of bicycles. At the train station, there was a sea of bicycles (see the pictures at the link above) all padlocked. There must have been a few hundred of them!

We walked about for a while looking at the scenery before feeling the need for a beer. (It had been a few hours since Breakfast, after all!) We found and retreated to a quaint little cellar bar. The beer was cool, the conversation was good. It was a good day.

On the train on the way back, we entertained ourselves with a game or charades. Well, it actually started on the platform waiting for the train. The fun was shared by all. We kept playing all the way back to Oostende and although the people around us tried not to let us know that they were watching, it was obvious that they were. Glad that we could make them smile!

Back in Oostende, I was able to get a couple shots of the cathedral and a building with a truly interesting paint job.

I hope that your day has been filled with new and wonderful experiences!

Don Bergquist - 21-January-2001 - Oostende, Belgium

The Local Area

For those of you who have asked for more details on where, exactly, it is that I am living, Here is an aerial view of the general area. The King's Arms Pub is at the top (north) of the map. The corporate house is at the lower, right of the map. The center of the map is the actual village of Thames Ditton. My office is marked by the words "Thames Ditton and a little office building icon.

The big green patch at the upper center of the picture is the Hampton Court Palace Grounds. The buildings to the left of the picture is East Molesey.

The map is from Google Earth, a cool program that I find myself using all the time. You should give it a try.

Well, I guess that is it for today. (I am posting this in advance since I am off in Oostend, Belgium for the weekend.)

I hope you know where you are and where you are is where you want to be today!

Don Bergquist - 21-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom (In absentia)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Traveling East

It would be grossly unfair of me to share my first impressions of France with you in this venue. Saying that France is a pit is as unfair as basing my views of Colorado on Commerce City, or my views of Florida on Opalocka, or the whole of the United States on Gary, Indiana. I will, however say that based on what I saw this evening getting to Oostende, France is a pit. (Oh, how unfair!) I will grant, that all that I saw of France was through the window of a moving car (at night) doing 150 (or so) Kph on the expressway, but there it is. Sue me!

The trip was wonderful! My friend Terry picked me up from the office in Thames Ditton at about 15:00 and we headed off. With a quick stop to grab my cameras and my luggage, then another to get Angie from her office, we then headed east.

The Eurotunnel is pretty cool. After checking into the embarcation area, you can go to the little mall/restaurant area and get a snack before getting on the train. When your departure is announced, you return to your car and drive through Passport Control. In England, they just barely even glanced at the passports and waved us through.

You then queue up for the train and head down to the waiting vehicles. If you have a high profile vehicle (A recreational Vehicle, Bus, or Extremely High SUV) you are waved into a part of the train that has only one deck to it. Otherwise, you are shunted into one of the two-deck trains. There, you drive into a long hall-way that is the train where a Eurotunnel staff member tells you where to stop.

When the car ahead of you is filled, the conductor(?) closes the doors at the head of your rail car, and then moved back telling the people in your rail car where to stop until the one you are in is full. They then close the door behind you and you wait for the remainder of the train to be loaded.

After the security announcements (don't walk between cars during transit, no flash photography, no smoking) you are underway. Although, there is no reason to do so, it seems everyone wants to just sit in their cars. Angie, Terry and I chose to stand and stretch our legs in the tunnel. Dinner was consumed en route. (You can see Angie and Terry with the Cornish Pasties that Angie got in Kingston upon Thames this afternoon before leaving. Mine was still wrapped because I didn't want to get the grease on my camera. After the pasties, we played the Mental_Floss quiz for the rest of the trip.

It goes by pretty quickly considering how long the trip is. In thirty minutes you can actually feel the train start to decelerate.

The trip is nearly over, you are in France.

Strange things about traveling to Europe via the Eurotunnel:

1) They tell you to open your sun roof and your windows during transit. It took me a while to suss. The problem is that the change in the pressure between the ends, and the middle are apparently enough to cause you to have problems with your windows.

2) They tell you to close your windows and sun roofs before leaving the train. What if you want them open?

3) Even though they have told you that there will be a delay between the arrival of the train and the time debarcation actually begins, everyone seems to want to get into gear as quickly as possible so there is always at least one idiot who starts his car the moment the train starts. Or so I am assured. I can believe it because the driver behind us and the one two cars ahead of us did just this, the moment the train stopped, they started their engines.

Once the train stops, they make a quick announcement welcoming you to France, wishing you a pleasant journey, reminding you to set your watches ahead one hour, and DRIVE ON THE RIGHT!

Drive on the right! Drive on the right! Drive on the right. You can hear the chant from all the Brits on the train. It is refreshing to know that they have to do the same thing we do when we visit England!

The drive to Oostende was uneventful. Other than the bits of France that I could see outside the window being oppressively bleak, industrial and just flat ugly, the trip passed without anything to comment on.

When we got here, we checked into the hotel. It was unremarkable. Like all the European hotels I have been in, the rooms are small, the closet space extremely limited, and the bathroom filled with more exposed pipes than are apparently necessary. It is in a nice place, though. After checking in, we went out for beers at Tim's Bar and then I went for a walk in the fresh air. It is nice here but there are far too many smokers.

Well, it's late (or rather early) and I am completely knackered so I guess I will save this to my PDA. As I noted on the blog earlier today, I will upload and publish these entries when I return to the office on Tuesday.

I hope your day has presented you with the opportunity to do something new today!

Don Bergquist - 20-January-2006 - Oostende, Belgium

I am off to Belgium this Afternoon

Greetings all!

This is a short post as I have a long day of training ahead and then, about 15:00 this afternoon, I am off to Belgium for the weekend. I am going to Oostende. I have never been there, but then, that is the great thing about travel, isn't it? Occasionally you get to go to places you have never been before. (Unless you have been everywhere, that is.)

I will be posting again when I return to my computer on Tuesday. I hope you have a great weekend and that you get to go somewhere interesting this weekend!

Have a great weekend!

Don Bergquist - 20-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Fond Farewell

To those of us who are a certain age, (that being anywhere within a few years of my age - give or take) and having had a similar background (at least to the point that you lived in the greater Miami metropolitan ADI and had a television set) there are sad tidings. Skipper Chuck has passed away.

Chuck Zink, was a local celebrity in South Florida; in most recent times, doing mostly local advertisements. He is known for being a newscaster and television personality. For those of us who remember our childhood in the sixties, however, Chuck Zink who will always be known as the host of the television children's show, Skipper Chuck's Popeye Playhouse, passed away earlier this month at his home in South Florida.

The Show aired on WTVJ in Miami and was a staple of children's programming since before I was born. It had a cast of great characters. Uncle Don played the organ and there was the Face in the Box. People would walk by the window at the back of the set and have brief interviews; there would be children's songs to sing, and then there was always a cartoon (again, seen through the window at the back of the set) that rounded-out the hour.

I will always remember the time that a friend of mine from grade school had a birthday party at the WTVJ studios culminating with an appearance for us on the Skipper Chuck Show. It was a great time and one that I remember always. It may have been one of the factors that caused me to change my major to broadcast production and set me on the road to a career in the television industry in the first place.

The link above will take you to the official obituary from the Palm Beach Post. I can only say to the Skipper's surviving friends and family, I thank you for sharing him with us. I whish you peace in this sad time.

Don Bergquist - 18-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Brian, Back at the King's Arms

My friend, Brian returned to the United Kingdom yesterday. Unfortunately, Jennifer was unable to get away and get back with him. I was glad to have a chance to engage Brian in conversation again over a pint. It has been quite a while.

Brian and Jen came to Colorado to visit me when the moved to the states last April. They invited me to come and visit them in Madison, Wisconsin, but that will have to wait until I am back in the states for a while.

Here is Brian mugging for the camera. The link at the top of this entry will bring you to my folder on Shutterfly where pictures of the gang at the table are stored.

It was a fun evening, Terry and Angie, and Kevin were all there. We were also joined by John and Missy (two of my coworkers who are over here on business as well). The conversation free-ranged from Red Dwarf to the political scene in the States to why some of my friends (apparently) think I should try and get back with my old girlfriend.

That seems to be a hot topic of discussion of late. In the past few days I have been asked at least half-a-dozen times about the woman I was dating last year. In short, it isn't going to happen. The more they ask me to talk about what went wrong with that relationship, the more I am convinced that I did the correct thing in breaking up. But this is not an entry about my dating life (or lack thereof) it is a tribute to my friend Brian and his return to the United Kingdom and The King's Arms. Welcome back, Brian! Jennifer, you were missed, wish you could have been here too!

I hope you are where you want to be today and that you are welcome in the arms of friends wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 18-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Cousin Stan!

Happy Birthday, Cousin Leona!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Getting Around Town

For those of you who know me and know that I am an avid driver, you may be wondering how I am doing without my wheels. I miss them terribly. Also, it was too expensive to consider bringing my recumbent bicycle with me as a mode of transportation (not that those tiny little 18" road wheels would have done too well on the cobbled streets and the rough pavement) so I was without any wheels for most of my trips here over the last fourteen months.

Luckily, (and again I owe huge thanks to) my friends over here, Terry and Angie said they had a bicycle that was just sitting in their garden shed that they could lend me. It was in need of a few things like some new brake pads and there was a worn sprocket. Having gotten those fixed, I now have a set of wheels for use in London.

And since my trips here now look like they will last well into the spring, I also have a way of countermanding the natural effects of all this wonderful beer I get over here.

So, I get to ride all over the area and see all the things I need to see and I am having a wonderful time.

I hope that today finds you mobile and free to do what brings you pleasure!

Don Bergquist - 17-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Liongate

Yesterday's entry was getting a bit long so I decided to cut it in half and move the other half to today.

My route yesterday was to ride over from Thames Ditton to Bushy Park by way of Hampton Court. The total distance to Bushy Park is about two-and-a-half miles. Once in the park, I rode down to the wilderness gardens and over to the Teddington gate.

Teddington is a really cool little village (a lot like Thames Ditton, really) that has some very neat old houses, a train station and a few nice looking pubs. While in Teddington I discovered the house that I intend to buy next week when I have won the lottery. It is just up the road from the Teddington Railway station; a nice little cottage that (and this part is unusual for this part of the country) has a two-car garage.

After riding around Teddington for an hour-or-so, I headed back into Hampton Court and took these pictures while waiting for the pub to open.

Last evening, after going home for a bite of lunch I road into Kingston, then down to Esher. I was so tired when I got home. I have no idea how long the actual ride was, but I decided I should use the good weather as long as it was holding.

I hope that you have a great day where-ever you are!

Don Bergquist - 16-Jan-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday to my niece, Sarah!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sunday Morning in Bushy Park

This morning, I decided to take my bicycle and ride into Bushy Park. On the way, I took some pictures with my new camera. I love having a number of lenses to choose from.

It was a lovely cool morning, and given all the rain we have been having, relatively dry. It was a bit foggy when I wet-out but it hadn't rained in a couple days so the streets were dry.

Getting to the park I passed a squirrel who would keep going down to the ground and find chestnuts then return to his perch in the crook of this tree to munch down on them. I was able to snap this picture before causing him to scamper off.

It was perfect weather for riding and it felt good to get out and get moving. There was quite a bit of mud on the unpaved paths in the park so I decided to stick to the paved paths as much as possible. Once in the park, I found this cool old tree. It had a lovely gnarled shape and interesting texture of the branches and trunk; I just had to snap some pictures of it. The one to the right I have converted to Black and White. I love the feeling you can get with the effect of just light and shadow. Color photography is nice, but I think that there is a real art to black and white. (If I only had a bit more talent, I could really take some nice B&W.)

Oh well, I am my own worst Critic!

Also in Bushy Park you will see deer, elk, and reindeer. There are herds of them allowed to roam as they please.

They are not quite tame (they still run from you if you try and approach them) but if you have a nice long focal length to your lens, you can get some good pictures of them.

The pictures I have uploaded were taken with my 300mm zoom lens so I could get fairly close in.

All in all it was a lovely ride. More details about the route I took will be forthcoming in tomorrow's blog entry. This one has become a bit long.

I hope your day is as pleasant wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 15-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Sun Rose this morning at 08:04 local time. Last night (yesterday afternoon) the sun went down at 16:15. It is no wonder people get SAD. I keep marveling at the length of the night here (and the day in the summer) but then I remind myself that despite the tropical plants growing outside, this is a city located fairly far to the north of the equator.

At over fifty degrees latitude, London is almost as far north as Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) and further north than almost every other city I have ever visited in Canada. (I could not find Barrie, Ontario on the atlas I was using so I think that one is close.)

There was a piece on BBC 4's news the other night giving the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and, not to sound like too much the Hypochondriac, I think I may be suffering a touch of it.

One of the symptoms is lethargy. The inability to wake-up during the day. I have this symptom often - well I guess mostly on Saturday and Sunday. I know I go to the pub on Friday and Saturday but I do not think that that has anything to do with it.

Then there is a disrupted sleeping pattern, I am pretty sure that I would rather chalk the fact that I am not sleeping like I do at home to SAD rather than missing Saga or going too often to pubs.

I think if you put it in the right light (pun intended) I can explain all my maladies as Seasonal Affective Disorder! Cool!

I hope your day is bright and sunny and you are not SAD!

Don Bergquist - 14-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Uncle Harvey!

Friday, January 13, 2006

One for the Gang at the Office

Every morning, we walk past the Ferry Tavern to get to the office. Interestingly, everybody who has stayed in the house has made the same comment.

Is JP Moonlighting?

JP, It would explain all the time you spend out of the Denver office. (And you claimed to be working out of the Colorado Springs office!)

Well, I guess we will discover this evening!

By the way, JP, if this is you, I think Martin is ready to audition for a place in the band. Backing vocals, perhaps?

The other thing that this sign makes me wonder about is who this Judy is and what has she got to fight back against? Could it be Aunt Judy? Could be! I haven't seen my Aunt Judy in a while. She could be the leader of an Angst Band in Surrey!

I guess that is a mystery that will have to wait. At least until tomorrow.

I hope that you are having a fine day and that your day is full of music -Let's close this entry musically, a little traveling music if you please - Sing something, JP!

Don Bergquist - 13-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Places I Want To Visit

Having had the past few days to discuss deep topics, I guess it is something light to balance out my blog for the week. So, let's talk about things I want to do that I have yet to do. This trip, while I am in the UK, there are a number of places that I want to visit.

Battersea Park - "The Upended Table" as I heard it called last year when I was in London the first time. (See my story about that here.) I think it is a cool looking building.

Westminster Abbey - No reason, really, just a touristy thing to do.

I also want to take a train north to Scotland.

I wouldn't mind going back to Stonehenge.

Oh! And if the pier at Brighton is open this time of year, I'd love to go ride the roller-coasters again!

I guess that today's blog entry was the blog equivalent of what (on television) would be called a "Clip Show." It's a bit of a busy day today. New words and pictures tomorrow. I promise!

I hope you get to do the things you want to do today!

Don Bergquist - 13-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, January 12, 2006

An Open Response To A Comment

Today, I wanted to openly reply to another blogger who posted a response to my comments on The Root of all Evil? which aired the other night on BBC. I started to write a personal response and decided to post it as a blog entry instead. Scott's Comments can be read here. Here is my open response to Scott's Entry:

Many thanks, Scott!

Yes, you are correct, "Pentateuch" is the word I was attempting to use. I have heard the word but never actually seen it written down. (Surprisingly none of my reading has ever included this word... at least none that I can remember.)

I am, in fact referring to the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, those that more-or-less became the first of the books of the Christian Bible. I gather that I am a bit of an anomaly; having been raised within the Catholic Church, I was never actively encouraged to actually read The Bible. My interest came more from a desire to understanding that which each Sunday I professed a belief in. My sincere thanks for the correction and I will correct the spelling in the entry above.

I'm glad to see that I didn’t attract immediate promises of damnation from the far right for posting it. (Not that it would have made much difference to me…) I have long held the belief that Science and Religion are two servants of the same master. They just hold different positions. Science is there to explain the unknown; Religion is there to explain the unknowable. I have no delusions that we (mankind) will ever unravel all the wondrous mysteries of our universe. At least I hope we don't. It will be a sad day if we ever do. I would hate to live in a universe where there is mystery or reason for inquiry.

I can understand that the mythology preserved in The Bible once served the good and valid purpose of explaining why the universe exists. But mankind has long since moved past the time where we particularly need a creation myth. Our current understanding of how we came about is every bit as miraculous and even more fascinating than that which is taught in Genesis. Don't get me wrong, Genesis is a lovely fable. Two of them really, but it has done its job. When Genesis was written it was impossible for us to grasp the true nature of the universe. We had neither the intellectual maturity nor the base principles to grasp it. But as said in the book of Esther (from The Apocrypha):

God hath wrought signs and great wonders

Our being able to understand how wondrous the universe really is does not diminish how great those wonders that God hath wrought are!

By insisting that all there is to know about God and his wonders was written thousands of years ago and is contained within the covers of one single book, the zealots do their god a disservice. How small a god would he have to be to be completely revealed by a single book that has not changed (except through transcription errors) in hundreds of years.

It's like the whole belief that the Earth is the center of the universe and we are the only intelligent creations in it. What a small god it would take to create nothing more miraculous than us!

Oh, and as for my holding the centrist view and being able to appreciate all sides, yes. I certainly can appreciate that what people believe is what they are comfortable believing, I do wish, however, that some times people would be a little more comfortable appreciating what other people's views are. The world would be a far better place if humans could just learn a little patience and understanding.

I hope wherever you are, you will take a moment to see things from a new prospective.

Don Bergquist – 12-January-2006 – Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I would like to thank the Kansas Board of Education. Thanks to the clowns at the center of the country's reigning "Intelligent Design" controversy, I have a new standard conversation patter here in the United Kingdom.

Instead of everyone telling me what a wanker the president, George W. Bush is (as was the number one comment I got from strangers last year) people over here are now amazed that one of our states could be so backward as to want to question evolution. Actually, we had a really good conversation over dinner the other night on this very topic. Unfortunately, much of the discussion was spend discussing semantically what the problem in Kansas actually is.

The link above will take you to the Berkeley website that discusses the currently reigning Evolutionary Theory. The confusion springs from the fact that the controversial scientific theory has the same name as the non-controversial scientific fact. To be put another way, the noun (which is under debate) is the same as the verb (which most people accept as fact) and thus there is confusion.

The noun is The Theory of Evolution. The Theory of Evolution is just that. It is a theory. It is, more importantly, a scientific theory. It makes definite predictions, provides some means of these predictions and has repeatedly stood-up to scientific scrutiny. The Theory of Evolution has its roots in Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection and with the intervening decades of research, study and additional scientific discoveries, the Theory of Evolution is a well accepted theory that is constantly being bolstered by the evidence. The theory explains the mechanism by which the changes are brought about.

The verb is evolution. The act of evolving. Anyone not convinced of this simple fact of life is woefully unobservant. New strains of viruses are appearing all the time. There is a new strain of influenza every year. The viruses that cause such diseases as strep and staph evolve constantly into tougher and more resistant strains. This is an indisputable fact of life. Note, this change is independent of whatever mechanism is responsible for the change.

I have never heard that the "Intelligent Design" crowd question the fact that things evolve. I am sure that they will state that the mechanism is something supernatural rather than stating the obvious conclusion that Occam's Razor dictates. Basically the problem is that there are two ways of looking at evolution.

We know that there is something called DNA. We know that it has something to do with the characteristics that we have when we are born. (Babies tend to look something like one or both of their parents.) We know that the DNA can undergo changes as time progresses and that these changes can be either beneficial or baneful. Tomatoes can be bred to be bigger, tastier, and easier to grow. The only thing that we need to assume when considering the Theory of Evolution is that there is a possibility that given time random chance can produce changes that lead to speciation.

On the other hand, Intelligent Design demands that we assume that things are too complex to have ever evolved by chance. We further must assume that there is an intelligent designer who, therefore was necessary to design the complex systems that are all around the place. We further have to assume (since we're on that path) that this designer must be of some higher order than the order of complexity that he/she/it designed.

That's an awful lot of assumptions to make. Occam's Razor tells us that when there are two or more choices, use the one that has the fewest assumptions. Don't needlessly multiply reliance on unexplainable phenomenon. So we can either assume that a mechanism we can see and manipulate is responsible for behaving in a way we know it to do or we can believe that some supernatural agent behaves in ways inexplicable to us for reasons unfathomable according to some divine plan that we will never be able to grasp.

You may as well attribute the sound of Thunder the an Angelic Bowling Alley. Sure, I know that it could be the sound caused by air masses suddenly expanding and collapsing caused be electronic heating when lightning strikes, but why take the simple answer? Angels must bowl.

Well, at least there is something for me to try and explain to the people I work with over here that does not involve what a tosser the president is. I am not sure which is better. Explaining that most of the country knows that the president is a moron or explaining that most of the country knows that the Kansas School Board are clowns. It's a toss-up!

I hope that you have a great day doing whatever you are doing today!

Don Bergquist - 11-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Root of all Evil?

Last night on BBC 4 was the premier of The Root of all Evil? a program presented by Dr. Richard Dawkins asserting that Religion is the root of all evil.

His premise seems to be that faith, any kind of faith, is the condition that brings about the fertile ground into which the seeds of extremism are sown. The mere presence of religion is what gives us the extremism that causes religious intolerance.

In an interesting exchange that he uses to illustrate his point, Dr. Dawkins goes to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and talks with the Pastor Ted Haggard. In the exchange, the Pastor tells the Scientist to have whatever beliefs he wants but not to be so arrogant. His tone and expression belies the message. I can only say to the Pastor that he needs to remove the beam from his own eye before attempting to remove the splinter from his neighbor's eye.

In a fit that can only be described as an extreme display of self-righteousness the Pastor informs Dr. Dawkins that unlike science, his faith is based on one, sacred, complete, unchanging and completely coherent Truth. When Dr. Dawkins asks if the Pastor truly believes The Bible to be a complete and coherent structure for belief, the Pastor asserts that The Bible contains no errors and is completely incontrovertible and non-contradictory.

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but I suggest that the good pastor actually read this book. A cursory glance at it reveals these statements to be untrue. Is, for example, God the jealous, spiteful, vengeful and war-like monster he is portrayed as in The Pentateuch or the kind, loving and benevolent father-figure from the sky portrayed in The Gospels? But one needn't even read the entire Pentitude to discover discrepancies. Genesis contains discrepancies before you even get a few pages into it.

"In the beginning..." begins chapter one. The book goes on to give a detailed timeline for the creation of the world. All leading-up to the creation of man and woman simultaneously on day six after-which God takes a bit of a breather. Good, great, fine. Light and dark, then sky and ground, plants and animals, then eventually on day six, man and woman created from nothing but the divine word and will. Now we know the sequence of the creation. Right?

"In the day that the lord, God made the heavens and the earth..." chapter two of Genesis tells us the lord basically looks around for things to put on the earth. Having the waters to rise out of the ground and having nobody to till the ground "the lord, God created man out of the dust of the ground..." (Genesis 2:7) and then he goes on to make the plants. Man created alone and before all the gardens have been planted. What? Man and no woman and before the plants and animals? Sorry, pastor... looks like there is a contradiction within the first few pages!

This is not to say that I agree with the good Doctor. I have to say that the Pastor had a point. The Scientist is guilty of hubris at the deepest level. He also seems to have forgotten the one golden rule of science: "Absense of proof is not proof of absence."

I have to say being a centrist in all things is some times a burden I find that must endure. (My cross to bear if you will.) Dr. Dawkins' assertion that the world would be a better place without religion ignores that while basically good people can be driven to do bad things by blind faith to dogma, there is also a positive effect of religion. There are some cases where basically bad people are prevented from doing bad things by fear of divine retribution.

While I believe that all religions need to lighten-up and realize that not a one of them could possibly have the ultimate and universal truth, they all serve a purpose. Let's quit arguing about the elephant, guys! In the end, Science and Religion are opposite sides of the same coin. One should never confuse the one for the other, they may serve the same master, but they are doing different jobs. Science is there to explain the unknown. Religion is there to explain the unknowable.

Dr. Dawkins' ideal Utopia of a purely Scientific, Atheistic world is one that (thankfully) can never be. You will, I pray, never get humans to rid themselves of the belief in the divine. A little less extremism would be a good thing, though.

Where ever you are, have a great day - explore the things you can see - believe the things you believe!

Don Bergquist - 10-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Six Blind Men of Industan

(Author Unknown)

It was six men of Industan to learning much inclined,
Who went to see the elephant, though all of them were blind,
That each by observation might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant and happening to fall
against his broad and sturdy side at once began to bawl,
God bless me, the elephant is very like a wall.

The second, feeling of the tusk cried, Ho! What have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me it's mighty clear
This wonder of an elephant is very like a spear.

The third approached the animal and happening to take
the squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake,
I see, quoth he, the elephant is very like a snake.

The fourth reached out an eager hand, felt about the knee.
What most this wondrous beast is like is mighty plain, quoth he.
'Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.

The fifth who chanced to touch the ear said even the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most. Deny the fact, who can,
This marvel of an elephant is very like a fan.

The sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope
than seizing on the swinging tail that fell within his scope
I see, quoth he, the elephant is very like a rope.

And so these men of Industan disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong.
Though each was partly in the right and all were in the wrong.

So oft in theologic wars the disputants so keen
rail on in utter ignorance of what the others mean
and prate about an elephant that none have ever seen.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Living in the Land of Faerie Tales

One of the things I love about the village I live in is the architecture. It is like living in Fantasy Land at Disney World. Except there is not a gift shop every ten steps and people here are allowed to grow beards, get tattooed and wear body piercing. And boy, do they! But the buildings give it a feel that is unusual. The architecture, around here is as far from what I am used to in the states as you can get.

I walk a mile into the office every morning and no two houses are (or buildings) are exactly alike. It is probably because the village predates America (let-alone Levittown) and as such has none of the tacky cookie-cutter feel to it. Rather than in America, where the houses appear to have been extruded one-after-another as if some giant Play-Doh factory press, the houses here, if similar are different enough that you can tell where one ends and the next begins. Even in the row of town houses I live in, now two are alike. There are six distinct designs for the twelve houses in the row. They are grouped in couplets with their mirror images. So #8 and #7 are mirror images of each other but look different from the couplets #9 /#10, #11/#12, #1/#2, #3/ #4, and #5/#6.

Heck there are buildings that look as if they have evolved over the years. Ye Olde Swann Public House, the Pub next to the office, appears to have been built in spurts over the years, having at least four distinct periods of construction. I base this on the fact that the roof line is a confusion of differing pitch angles and materials. For all I know, the pub was originally four different buildings that were merged.

The good thing about living here is it gives me hope that Faerie Tales can come true. (Just like the song promises.)

Here I am referring to the Faerie Tale of The Cobbler and the Elves. You, no doubt remember the one, but here it is in synopsis form: A poor, tired old cobbler has more children than he can afford and more work than he has time. One evening through sheer exhaustion, he falls asleep at his work bench and some local faeries, seeing how overworked he is, alight on the work bench and turn all the raw materials therein into shoes by the time the cobbler awakes. Each night, he leaves loads of raw materials and each morning they have been made into shoes by the faeries.

I have always had a couple problems with this faerie tale. The first being, how did the faeries know what size shoes to make? Did they see the order slips somewhere? The second problem I have is that what, with faeries having a penchant for wearing shoes that come to a curlicue point at each toe, the shoes they are likely to make could hardly make a fashion statement.

I have decided this to be my experiment into whether one can really live the Faerie Tale. Oh, it's not that I have left leather, felt, thread, and such lying around. No. I am thinking of a more practical application for the faeries I hope to attract. (Who really needs another pair of curlicue shoes? I know I have plenty of them for my tastes already in my collection.)

No, I have been far more practical in my desired tasks to assign the night visitors.

The kitchen of the house I am living in has a huge old fireplace in it. It's the kind of thing you'd see in a colonial home back in the states. Big enough to walk into if you're stooped over. I can picture cauldrons bubbling in it and roasts turning on spits over a roaring fire.

The owners of the house, have however, converted the hearth into a wine cellar. It really looks quite nice. Other than the fact that all the racks are empty. This is what gave me my idea! Last night I left some empty wine bottles, the corks that I had pulled from them, some grapes and some sugar on the counter. I even left a single bottle of wine in the wine rack in the hopes that the faeries would get the idea. I have had no luck so far but I am sure that I will. I guess I just have to be a little more over-worked and the faeries will finally get the picture.

I hope that your day is going well and that you get what you are after.

Don Bergquist - 09-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Young At Heart

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart
- - -
You can go to extremes with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting with each passing day
And love is either in your heart or on it’s way

- - -

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart
For as rich as you are it’s much better by far
To be young at heart
- - -

And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive
Then here is the best part
You have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart
- - -
And if you should survive to 105
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive
Then here is the best part
You have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart

Happy Birthday, Cousin Joan!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dinner with Friends

I have been cooking for much of the day. My day started with breakfast at Tiger Joe's with the team that is leaving today. Their car came and got them this morning and they should, by now, be jetting their way east across the Atlantic.

My friends from Molesey are headed over for dinner. I have made a stew, and have a nice crusty loaf of whole grain bread for dinner. There is a bottle of wine breathing and getting ready to serve.

I have set-out some starters to start the evening off with and I am sure that we will have a lovely time.

I had planned on mowing the lawn yesterday but it rained all morning. This morning it was raining again so the lawn continues to grow.

I hope you have a pleasant day wherever you are.

Don Bergquist - 08-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Week One - My Resolutions Intact

As of the close of the first week of the year, I have succeeded in keeping my pub-based resolutions. Also good news for the week: According to my weigh-in this week, I have gained only 1/2 pound over the holidays and during my two weeks over here.

I've been really busy this week so, I am taking off and headed to the for the evening. Have a great day, wherever you are!

Don Bergquist - 07-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Happy Birthday, Aunt Elaine!

Friday, January 06, 2006

London at Night

So, I bit the bullet. I headed into London last night and did some night-time photography.

The night was clear and cold. The skies were overcast but not raining. This overcast explains the brown background to all the pictures I took. I spent the first few minutes (about thirty) just getting downtown. Then another half-hour picking a site to set-up and take pictures. I have a picture that I took last time I was here with my old camera of The London Eye. It was okay, but I knew I could do better. So I spent much of an hour getting set-up and getting the shot below. The link above will take you to the pictures I took. There are many that are almost the same. I was playing with the exposure and the focus. The picture below is my favorite one from the session.

The Houses of Parliament are another favorite picture among photographers while in London. I realize that this shot is more-or-less ubiquitous and that everyone who visits London takes this shot so, hey! Who am I to buck the trend?

Again, the pictures at the link are a number of different exposure of the same shot. There are also a number of the clock tower alone. (Big Ben is the bell that rings, not the clock tower. But I am sure that you knew that...)

In all, I was downtown for a couple hours. I would have stayed longer but I really had no plan when I set-out and it was getting pretty cold last night so I headed back home on the most crowded train I believe I have ever been on. There were not even any straps left so I was left to press a hand against the ceiling and hope for the best.

I hope wherever you are, your day is filled with pleasant experiences.

Don Bergquist - 06-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Seeing Stars

I believe that this is possibly the wettest place I have ever lived!

Strong statement from one whose fondest childhood memory is of spending time in the summer at Juniper Springs. The long afternoons my brothers, sister, and I would spend playing in the omnipresent drizzle; hide-and-seek in the palmetto stands around the campsite, running through the drippy woods to play in the shallow springs, trekking in the rain down to the big spring to see who could stand the cold of the water longest.

But this place is no summer memory of impossibly green palmettos and freedom from care or responsibility. This is the real world. Sure, London is impossibly green. The grass needs to be mowed this weekend. And there are palmettos. There is one in our back garden, for instance. But when reality sets in, it is to the office I now scamper through the omnipresent drizzle. Of off to the market, the restaurants or the pub. It is, almost like living in Seattle. (Except here, all the coffee is instant! Yuck!)

Last night, however on the way home, I noticed I was not being pelted by falling water. In fact what was coming down on me was... Nothing! It had stopped raining. I looked up, half expecting that God was playing a practical joke on me and that I would immediately get soaked by water hanging just above my head but none was there. In fact, I saw stars! Okay, only five of them through a break in the clouds, but there were STARS overhead!

According to the weather, and I have to steel my nerves for this one, we should have a partly sunny day today! I am overjoyed! I can hardly wait. Do they still have that big bright thing in the sky? I can hardly wait to see.

Well, I hope that your day is looking to be bright and sunny for you! Have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 05-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'm sure glad I brought that fancy new camera with me to London!

Every day since I have been here it has rained!

I am beginning to think that photography must not be too popular a hobby in this country in the winter. I am sorry that I have not posted any new pictures. I hope to take some time this weekend to shoot some new photos to post. Until then, I hope you are at least enjoying my daily entries of a more text-based nature.

Have a great day!

Don Bergquist - 04-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

With friends like I've got...

All the way into East Molesey I practiced my lines:

"Hey, guys!"

[they speak] - (Note: I said I was practicing my lines, not theirs... The "they speak" parts will be their lines, probably heavy with protestation and enticement for me to stay and have "just one more beer.")

"I've just got time for one... Can I buy anyone one while I am at the bar?"

[they speak]

"Nah! It's okay. I have the first round. But I can only stay for one... 'School Night' you know. Have to be sharp at work tomorrow."

[they speak]

"Well, okay then. Twist my arm! But two is my definite limit."

All the way from East Molesey into Hampton Court to the pub, it was a replay - I practiced my lines:

"Nah! I really can't stay for another round. I have to leave. This is me headed home. Early night."

[they speak]

"Yes, it has been lovely seeing you again and you'll buy the first round next time!"

[they speak]

[I leave.]

When I actually arrived at the pub, I quickly reviewed as I walked in the door:

"Just one tonight guys, early night. Have to be fit and aware tomorrow!"

In all actuality, it was my friends that started out.

"Great party last night, eh? Can I get you a Beer?" (Terry was already at the bar.)

"Sure. Yes, it was a great party. Thanks for the invite I really had fun. When did you guys finally get to bed?"

"The last guest left around four this morning so, I guess about 04:30. This will have to be an early night for us."

"Oh? Well, okay. If you insist."

I did later own up that I had been practicing to offer much the same admonishment. They had just beaten me to it.

We had a pleasant evening, drinking beer, discussing the weekend. Making plans to meet-up at the pub the next weekend. And then we left. In time to make it home to see "Piffle and Balderdash" on the BBC. (No, that was not an editorial, it was the title of a show on etymology.)

At least, they left in time. Another friend of mine was at the pub that I had not seen in a while and we started talking. (All intentions to the contrary... What is it they say about a certain thoroughfare and good intentions?) I left the pub around ten, returned home around eleven and was in bed dead to the world only a few minutes later.

This morning, I am fresh as a daisy and ready to take on any project I can get at the office! I love having a cast-iron constitution. I thank my parents for it every day!

I hope your day was as pleasant and that you do everything you intend to do today. (Or have fun not doing it!)

Don Bergquist - 03-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Monday, January 02, 2006

What to do in London on a bank holiday

They sure do take their bank holidays seriously over here! For those of you who do not know what a bank holiday is, it is basically what would be called a federally accepted holiday in the states. The banks are closed as is pretty much everything else but the pubs.

I have people who have come over from The States on another project staying at the corporate house with me. Today they have gone into London to do some site seeing. I can imagine that they will have fun. I think that I would probably have more fun alphabetizing the bottles in the spice rack than I would dealing with the crowds on this, a bank holiday. Luckily, I have plenty other things to do today.

After having a leisurely lie in (I stayed in bed until nearly eight!) followed by a breakfast of Cottage Potatoes, Corned Beef and Eggs, I read a book for a while. I took a ride down to the bicycle shop to see if they had a sign telling me when they will be opening after the holiday and finally, I logged-on to do a little paperwork and check my email. The rest of the day will be dedicated to the fine art of practicing that cardinal virtue: Sloth. (Or is that one of the seven deadly sins... I can never remember!)

Later this afternoon I have to walk into East Molesey. It seems the other night the restaurant I had dinner in accidentally double billed my credit card. It can be fixed in a jiffy. Then, whilst I am there anyway, I guess I will pop into The Kings Arms for a quick pint with my friends. I will have to make it one or two... No more... As it is a work day tomorrow.

I hope that wherever you are today, you can practice your favorite virtue (or vice).

Don Bergquist - 02-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

Good Morning!

It was quite some party last night! There was, as predicted plenty of ale and conversation. My friend, Kevin picked me up and took me into the village. Saved me a two mile walk! Thanks, Kev!

The entire gang was there and the pub was bustling. I split my time between the party going on in the main bar and the party going on back by the second fireplace. I got to see almost everyone I have grown to look forward to seeing here in the UK. A couple people did not make it to the pub for one reason or another but most of my friends from over here were there.

At midnight there was a toast and confetti cannons there was glitter, paper streamers, and confetti all over every thing. Then the party got rocking. The dance floor was packed. It was a great time and I cannot think of any way I would rather bring in the new year! Thank you to all my friends here for making me feel welcome!

I shared a car back to Thames Ditton with Angie, Terry and Terry and got back believing I beat my co-workers who had gone to Trafalgar Square. I found out this morning that they had not gone. Had they, rail work on the line back from Waterloo to Surbiton would have mean that they would have trouble getting home. They turned in early so that they could go out to do their sightseeing this morning.

It's a quiet morning at home for me today, then off to Molesey to a party at Terry and Angie's house. So here I sit, sipping my coffee and writing my blog entry. I guess it is time to buckle down and commit...

It is, after all, that time again. Time to make the dreaded resolutions.

For 2006, I resolve...

...To cut back on the trips I take to The Kings Arms. Too much of a good thing makes too much of me! I resolve not to go more than three time a week.

...To not replace the trips I am not taking to The Kings Arms with trips to the other pubs more conveniently located.

...To replace the exercise I would get walking to the pub with something comparable.

...To not leave the UK with more than I brought on me!

I may have some non-British-Pub-based resolutions but I do not think I am going to share them here! I hope that your new year is filled with everything you want and need. Resolve to make it so!

Don Bergquist - 01-January-2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, United Kingdom

...but seriously folks...

Life's Been Good
(Joe Walsh)
- - -
I have a mansion
Forget the price
Ain't never been there
They tell me it's nice
- - -
I live in hotels
Tear out the walls
I have accountants
Pay for it all
- - -
They say I'm crazy but I have a good time
I'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crime
Life's been good to me so far
- - -
My Maserati
Does one eighty-five
I lost my license
Now I don't drive
- - -
I have a limo
Ride in the back
I lock the doors
In case I'm attacked
- - -
I'm making records
My fans they can't wait
They write me letters
Tell me I'm great
- - -
So I got me an office
Gold records on the wall
Just leave a message
Maybe I'll call
- - -
Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through
(Everybody sing) I'm cool (He's cool)
I can't complain but sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me so far
- - -
I go to parties
Sometimes until four
It's hard to leave
When you can't find the door
- - -
It's tough to handle
This fortune and fame
Everybody's so different
I haven't changed
- - -
They say I'm lazy but it takes all my time
(Everybody sing) Oh yeah (Oh yeah)
I keep on going guess I'll never know why
Life's been good to me so far.